Thoughts Around The Nation: Week Six

An absolute thriller of a week will go down as one of the best in regular-season history especially after a loss by Alabama football. 

Right around quarter to four on Saturday afternoon, I said on Twitter that I had no idea how to describe just how incredible the day had been up to that point. It’s now well over 48 hours later and I have still yet to find the words. But let’s try anyway.

At the same exact time, we were given two of the best college football games in recent memory: Oklahoma/Texas and Ole Miss/Arkansas. Oklahoma won the Red River Showdown on a walkout touchdown where all they really wanted was to try to better set up a game-winner. Ole Miss defeated Arkansas on a missed Arkansas two-point conversion after the Hogs had just scored a touchdown as time expired.

-For Texas, this game was essentially the last ten years crammed into 60 minutes. The Longhorns came out on fire. They took a 28-7 lead in just the first quarter. Oklahoma scored some, but with two minutes left in the third quarter, the Longhorns were up 41-23. Then it somehow got even crazier.

Oklahoma scored 32 points over the final 16:02 of game time. At one point with 1:23 remaining, Texas tied the game, but Oklahoma stormed down the field for the win.

Texas was back, then they weren’t. Then they were again, then they lost. The last ten years of Longhorn football.

For Oklahoma, They might have found their next superstar. A new household name from Oklahoma isn’t surprising, but what might be is that it might end up being Spencer Rattler’s replacement.

Caleb Williams came in the game for the first play of the second quarter: 4th and 1, and all Williams did was rush 66 yards for a touchdown on that very play. Rattler stayed in a bit longer, but a fumble that led to a Texas touchdown was the final straw. Williams played the rest of the way, going 16/25 with 212 yards and two touchdowns.

If you’re the Sooners, you almost have no choice to stick with Williams. It’s hard to even fathom replacing not only a Heisman contender but the Heisman favorite because of his play. But it’s been said to death: the lack of big plays out of the Sooner offense will be a killer, and it almost was right here. That is until Williams was in, and the Sooner offense looked as good as it has all year.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The Sooner offense might not have been broken with Rattler, but it was in desperate need of repair. That’s exactly what Williams gave Oklahoma.

-Now what happens with Spencer Rattler? He was the Heisman favorite and a projected top-five pick in the 2022 NFL draft. This season determines his future.

If Rattler earns the starting job back, he needs to return to the 2020 version of himself. If he doesn’t, there is no NFL in 2022.

Rattler’s performance this season has done nothing to help his NFL stock. He was a projected top pick, but this season, he’s been mediocre. The first player I think of that could have gone number one overall but didn’t play well and cost himself? Washington’s Jake Locker.

Before you go crazy at that comparison, yes, Locker should have left college after his junior season instead of returning for his senior year. He went from a projected top-five pick to possibly falling out of the first round because of poor play. Now that part sounds familiar.

The one way Rattler can help himself is to stay in college. And not to open pandora’s box, but it’s not going to be at Oklahoma.

So if he does leave Oklahoma to better his draft stock, where to? He’s from Phoenix, so an obvious choice would be Arizona State, especially if Jayden Daniels heads to the NFL. But of all the possibilities, I think Tennessee would be the best fit.

Can you imagine Rattler in a Josh Heupel offense? It’d also give him the chance to play in the SEC, a league in which, and this doesn’t exactly qualify as breaking news, plays much better defense than the Big 12. He did have interest in the Vols during his recruiting process as well. This would also give Tennessee its best quarterback in years (sorry, Hendon Hooker) and is a difference-maker on offense. From the Tennessee side of things, it could be the first piece for them to truly get back to national relevance for positive reasons for once.

-Meanwhile at the same time as that Oklahoma/Texas thriller was happening, Ole Miss defeated Arkansas in another thriller. The teams combined for 1287 yards of offense and 103 points. It’s hard to pile on either defense since both offenses were just so good, but I have to admit, I didn’t see either offense exploding like this, and Arkansas in particular.

Ole Miss only led 21-14 at the half. M out of the fireworks happened in the second half, where the teams combined for 68 points, which hit the over (which was set at 67) in just that half alone.

People are questioning Arkansas coach Sam Pittman’s decision to go for the win rather than take it to overtime. It’s the same thing at any level of football. If it coverts, Pittman is a genius. If it doesn’t, it’s a bad decision.

But look at how this game went. Pittman made the right decision. Ole Miss needs the same 25 yards for a score in overtime as Arkansas. How can you trust the defense to get the necessary stop within 25 yards when you’ve just given up 611 yards? And more importantly, after you just played backyard football with 676 yards yourself, how do you not trust your offense in that situation? Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.

-Could we be looking at an 11-win Kentucky team? It’s not only fair,  but I think it IS the biggest game in Kentucky football history this weekend when they take on the Georgia Bulldogs. 

I’m sticking by what I said last week: I don’t see anyone beating Georgia in the regular season. But if there’s one team that has a chance remaining on the schedule, it’s Kentucky. And Georgia is a 23.5 point favorite. What does that tell you?

If Auburn played Georgia tough last week, Kentucky can absolutely give the Bulldogs a fight.

What would a win against Georgia do for Kentucky? Well, for starters, it would very nearly lock them in the SEC title game. They’d be allowed one loss and need a second for Georgia to jump them back into first.

If you’re looking for one of those weird connections to justify a possible upset, here it is: Kentucky has their highest ranking since the crazy 2007 season when the Wildcats were 8th. Ironically enough, the Wildcats made that jump because…they defeated the number one team in the country.

-Speaking of No. 1, I didn’t think Alabama football would lose to Texas A&M, but you were fooling yourself if you thought it would be a blowout.

Too many people, including Alabama, seemed to have thought the preseason No. 6 forgot how to play quality football. You know Jimbo was not going to let the Mississippi State game happen again and he would have his players full, undecided attention.

This win didn’t change that much for this season, but it might have completely changed the fortunes for the future of a program that was already knocking on the door of success.

This was a big recruiting weekend for the Aggies, who had numerous top recruiting visits from top prospects of both the 2022 and 2023 class, including defensive lineman Walter Nolen, the number one recruit in the 2022 class as well as defensive lineman Lebbeus Overton, the top-ranked recruit in the 2023 class.

The Aggies currently have 24/7 Sports’ 9th ranked class in 2022 and fourth early in the 2023 rankings. Not only the win over the No. 1 ranked team in the country but the excitement and atmosphere of Kyle Field is the perfect storm. Nights like that are what win over recruits.

As for Alabama football, the Crimson Tide has work to do. The “eye test” screamed that they were beatable and now it’s officially on the record books that this team is not even close to invincible.

And I’ll take that even further: Alabama will lose at least once more this season. Let’s just forget about New Mexico State. That’s not happening and there’s no explanation why required.

Mississippi State’s Air Raid will present a tough challenge to a secondary that has shown it can give up big plays in the passing game. Add in on the road after a brutal loss, Alabama might be prone. They play Tennessee the following week, and the Vols are now red hot on offense. That might be a REALLY sneaky game for Alabama. Tennessee has had its moments of playing really well. If the team as a whole keeps playing at the level they are now, this game will not be a cakewalk like it’s been in the past.

Who knows what to make of LSU? They’re average, but need a big win to set things straight again in Baton Rouge. It’s hard to see the Tigers even keeping it within three scores, but I guess anything’s possible.

After Alabama football destroys poor New Mexico State 63-0, they then the Tide Arkansas in what will be a very interesting game.

Why can’t Arkansas beat Alabama? A strong, physical defense with an equally strong run game. Arkansas has now shown as well that their offense is capable of putting up points.

And the Iron Bowl against Auburn. And just like LSU, who knows? Good Bo Nix can make that a long day for Alabama, but bad Bo Nix can make it a very short day for Auburn. Nix has already led a decent Auburn team with a good enough defense to win against the Tide. Will we get a replay of that again?